Kimi Raikkonen meets the media after his #nascar debut. http://twitpic.com/50bt1q
That is properly the worse picture of Kimi I have seen.
Kimi Raikkonen says he had more fun than expected as he finishes 15th in NASCAR debut
CONCORD, N.C. – Kimi Raikkonen had more fun than he expected in his Camping World Truck Series debut.
Finishing 15th wasn’t the fun part for a driver who has 18 Formula One wins as well as the 2007 Formula One championship trophy, but from where he started his day Friday, Raikkonen seemed satisfied following the N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Raikkonen, who struggled in practice and started 31st in the 36-truck field, actually scrubbed the wall twice during the race but avoided the carnage in a race that had 10 cautions.
“The racing was fun,” Raikkonen said. “[There were] too many cautions. Every time when I feel the car starts to work better then you have a caution and it takes a long time before the handling comes back.”
The 32-year-old Finnish driver said “we’ll see” when asked if he would run the Nationwide Series race next week. No deal is done but Kyle Busch said he has a Nationwide car at his shop.
“It is much easier once you do one race because you learn on restarts as to where you should go and stuff like that,” said Raikkonen. “It actually was more fun than I expected.
“I was OK once I knew the car was fine. It was much better than it was this morning. … I’d rather be more higher [at the finish].”
Raikkonen actually caught a break when he made a mistake when he missed pit road early in the race. But that actually allowed him to restart ninth and then a caution came out when team owner Kyle Busch spun right when Raikkonen had to pit for fuel.
That allowed him to keep decent track position and race in the mid-teens throughout the remainder of the event.
“There was too much talking going on on the radio,” said crew chief Rick Ren, who also is the general manager of Kyle Busch Motorsports. “I wanted to pit but everybody was on the radio. I’ve had experienced Cup guys do the same thing. It was no big deal.”
Raikkonen said he wasn’t too surprised by any event.
“It’s not really one thing,” Raikkonen said. “It’s just more to know what to do on restarts and where to put the car and sometimes you push a bit too hard and you run wide and then you lose places and it’s hard to get back to places.
“It’s more to really knowing where to be in the right position, but not anything real surprising.”
Ren said he was most impressed with Raikkonen on the restarts.
“What impressed me more than anything was restarts – he didn’t spin the tires and was pushing people,” Ren said. “I am wondering if F1 cars, they put down so much power that he’s got a really good feel for when the tires are slipping.”
Raikkonen said he wasn’t used to a one-day show that the trucks had with practice in the morning, qualifying in the afternoon and the race at night.
He said he enjoyed his first NASCAR experience.
“Everybody has been very nice and very welcome so it is a nice atmosphere, very relaxed – it’s been good,” Raikkonen said.
Ren said Raikkonen’s next step will be up to him.
“It’s going to be up to him,” Ren said. “I think his first hit on NASCAR was probably pleasant compared to what it could be.
“The media stuff I hear went good today. The race went well for him.”
"His first hit on NASCAR was probably pleasant compared to what it could be," said Rick Ren, Raikkonen's crew chief. "The race went well. He talked a lot during the race, which is unusual. He's known as not talkative. He's not used to having a spotter. He does everything you ask him to do. I can't believe he's not pleased with his first race. I'm pleased for him, because I know how difficult it is here.
"What impressed me more than anything is restarts. He didn't spin the tires. I was like, 'Wow, this guy is good.' "
Raikkonen did concede he was more happy after the race than following two tough practices that morning. Ren admittedly set the truck up tighter than usual (which is standard for rookie drivers unaccustomed to saving a loose vehicle), but neither of Kyle Busch Motorsports' Toyotas were handling well, and Busch said the truck was the source of Raikkonen's struggles.
KyBu has Nationwide car - a Toyota - at his shop. Will Kimi Raikkonen run it next wk? "Maybe," KyBu smiles. "You'll learn next wk."
All signs point at Kimi Raikkonen racing next week in the Nationwide Series. It won't be a Kyle Busch entry, but @KyleBuschMS will run it.